The key question is who is on trial? Whether Gen. Musharraf is in fact on trial or is it the integrity, impartiality and honesty of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and the Apex Court is on trial.
Chaudhry had no impediments arising with President Gen. Musharraf until a reference of nepotism and corruption was sent by then Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz to Musharraf. One of the allegations included using his good offices to send his son Dr. Arsalan for special police training to Sandhurst out of protocol.
Since no Supreme Council was established by chief justice to give hearing to cases against members of the judiciary, the president had no recourse other than to ask Chaudhry to document a justification of denial; or resign from his office to avoid implications of nepotism. Chaudhry neither proved himself innocent; nor did he resign. Instead, this was converted into a lawyers movement to remove Gen. Musharraf.
Let’s go a step backward and recall that Musharraf didn’t violate the constitution in 1999 on his own accord. He was sacked by then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif while returning home having attended an official conference. His aircraft was ordered to land in an enemy country. The army deputy commanders did not accept the high-handed action meted out to the army chief and they took control to facilitate landing of Musharraf’s aircraft. Life of 250 passengers aboard was endangered as the aircraft struggled in the air with few minutes back up fuel before it was granted landing permission.
Chaudhry sanctified Musharraf’s taking over power under the doctrine of necessity and supported Musharraf’s actions throughout until his personal interest clashed and Musharraf had to impose emergency in 2007 in order to combat serious terrorism as the country was suffering other than political anarchy with the lawyers movement.
In the backdrop of these circumstances, a fair trial to Musharraf cannot be expected without first trying Nawaz Sharif for his actions, he had initiated at that time. Since the long March was led by Nawaz Sharif that restored Chaudhry the judiciary has either cleared Sharif brothers in the cases filed against them or put some of the cases in abeyance in the same way they delayed the case against Justice Chaudhry’s son Dr. Arsalan Iftikhar, who was found guilty of receiving huge sums of money and benefits from a famous business tycoon to provide him favors in legal cases. The judiciary’s approach seen against Musharraf in the past week reveals revengeful acts. It is important for Pakistan that its judiciary to avoid vindictiveness as it had already lost its credibility due to decree of death punishment to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, which the judges repented later.
It has to be taken into account that Musharraf drove Pakistan out of 9/11 aftermath safely, otherwise, it could have been wrapped up together with Afghanistan. Moreover, economy remained stable during his rule. Although, he was a dictator but he proved an honest and able leader which Pakistan needs.
Muhammad Ali Chishty, Riyadh